Songs As Stories: Stars Go Blue

When Stars Go Blue *Inspired by the song “When The Stars Go Blue” by Ryan Adams

It was a secret place, a quarter acre of Eden abandoned and erased from the mind of mankind the instant the original sin was committed, and I had stumbled upon it quite by accident.

No, that was a lie and I promised myself I would not defile the sanctity of the garden if it could be helped.

I was not proud of the actual reason of how I came to be in this place, simply because I was a stalker. In my defense, it was only the once, I hadn’t made a habit of following women around without their knowledge. Just one woman. The one I was currently spying on, crouched here in the bushes amongst the flower blossoms, berries and leaves.

Mari.

Coworkers called her Marionette behind her back and sometimes to her face, passing it off as good-natured teasing. There was nothing good-natured about it. She acquired the nickname because she was a gangly woman who moved about in a jerky fashion, as if the unseen wires that made her move were constantly in a tangle that the puppeteer hadn’t been able to sort.

Mari did as people of her ilk often do, she kept herself to herself, stared at her shoes rather than make eye contact, and accepted all the negativity heaped upon her shoulders with nary a complaint. But she couldn’t hide the fact that she was miserable, just as I couldn’t hide that I was somehow drawn to that misery.

Although I wanted to know her for a while, I was too shy to make an approach. Today, I told myself, would be the day. As I went through my daily grind, I slowly mustered all my courage and screwed it to the sticking place. Ten minutes to quitting time, I marched to Mari’s cubicle, prepared to make my intentions known…

But she wasn’t there.

I searched by the fax machine, in the kitchen near the coffee maker, I even bore the brunt of strange stares when I loitered outside the women’s restroom, but she wasn’t anywhere to be found. Completely and utterly defeated, I grabbed my coat and left for home.

Half a block before the entrance to the subway, something grabbed my attention out the corner of my eye. Across the street, Mari sat on a bench at a bus stop as the 5:17 pulled up. I wanted to run across the street, braving the crosstown traffic and hop on the bus to make my stand. Instead, I froze. All my former courage had long abandoned me.

For the second time today, my heart sank. And for the second time today it did so without merit. The bus pulled away to find Mari still seated. And she sat as bus after bus pulled up and away. She did not read a book. She did not listen to music. She simply sat patiently.

Then when sufficient time had passed, Mari stood and walked away. I couldn’t tell you what possessed me to follow her on the crooked path that weaved through narrow alleyways, towering overpasses, black as pitch underground tunnels. Eventually her journey came to a halt in front of a lot that appeared to have been vacant for centuries.

Mari stood at the perimeter of the lot and at the precise moment the evening woke and forced the daylight into hiding, a door appeared with seven locks. She stood absolutely still and waited. In the newborn evening sky, stars bloomed and seven of them twinkled blue in a sequence that repeated seven times. The locks tumbled one after the other and the door opened slowly.

Mari stepped through the door frame but hadn’t appeared in the lot on the other side. From my vantage point, she simply vanished.

I ran to the door and managed to squeeze through before it shut, but instead of finding myself in the overgrown and refuse-filled lot, I stepped into paradise. My clothes melted from my body and ashamed of my nakedness, I hid in a nearby bush.

In the very center of the garden stood a mammoth tree that bore unrecognizable fruit of various shapes and sizes, the roots of which branched out along the grass and touched two streams on either side, one that appeared to have been made of milk and the other honey.

Standing beside the tree was Mari, naked but no longer that gangly woman who was awkward in her skin and awkward in the world. Here, her jerky movements flowed gracefully, her normally dull and lifeless eyes were polished to a fine shine, and her crooked mouth straightened and nearly split her face in half when she unleashed that radiant smile.

Mari blew a kiss up to the tree and somehow that kiss became a breeze that rustled the leaves which made a sort of melody unlike any I had ever heard. A pure music played by nature itself.

She danced around the tree all night without tiring, in time with the tune, and sang in a voice that was different from her normal mousy tone, stronger now, more confident. And I watched all the sorrow and strife, all the hurt and anger, all that was wrong with her life evaporate from her body.

When she sensed it was time to leave, Mari reached up and plucked the smallest of the fruit from a low hanging branch and dipped it in the stream of honey before washing the meal down with a cupped hand from the stream of milk.

The door reappeared and her clothing was folded neatly in a pile beside it. With each layer she put on, the transformation to her old self, the Mari that people mocked, began.

I thought about following her, but how could I ever leave this place, this patch of perfection? I knew she would be back and the next time I would talk to her, for certain. Until then I was contented to wait until she returned to dance again. I would wait until the stars went blue.

Sally forth and be dancing where the stars go bluingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

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View From the Window

View From the Window

The hospital room was designated for specific types of patients. That was the first thing the two men had in common. Their illnesses, although extremely different in their makeup, were classified as terminal. Edmond, the older of the two by a decade, was positioned upright in bed by the nurses for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His was the bed was next to the only window in the room.

The man in the other bed, Rudolph, was forced to remain on his back. An uneasy relationship at first as was the norm when strangers in pain were thrust together, the men slowly opened a line of communication and soon they began speaking for hours. They spoke of their ex-wives and estranged families, their homes, their jobs, the exotic and less so places they vacationed. And every afternoon when Edmond could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to Rudolph all the things he spot outside the window.

Rudolph lived for those hour long breaks where his life was broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

“The view overlooks a park with a spectacular lake, Rudy,” Edmond said. “Ducks and swans are playing on the water. A father is actually sailing a remote controlled boat with his son. A young couple is kissing on the benches beside the flower bushes…”

“What about the city skyline, Eddie? Can you see it over the trees?” Rudolph asked.

“In clear view.” Edmond replied. And as he described the outside world in exquisite detail, Rudolph closed his eyes and imagined the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon Edmond described a parade passing by. Although Rudolph couldn’t hear the band, he saw it in his mind’s eye just as clearly as his roommate portrayed it in descriptive words. Then an unexpected and sinister thought entered his mind.

Why should he get to see everything while I’m lying in bed dying, unable to see a goddammed thing?

It didn’t seem fair.

Almost as soon as the thought hit, Rudolph felt ashamed. But as the days passed into weeks and he missed seeing more and more sights, his envy eroded to resentment. He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep.

I should be by that window!

That thought and that thought alone now consumed the entirety of his being.

Then late one sleepless night as Rudolph lay staring at the ceiling, Edmond began to cough, choking on the fluid in his lungs. Rudolph watched in the dimly lit room as his so-called friend with the widow view groped for the button to call for help.

Listening from across the room Edmond never moved, never pushed his own button which would have most assuredly brought the night nurse running in. Although it seemed longer, it was a mere five minutes before the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of labored breathing. Now there was only silence. A deathly silence.

The following morning the day nurse discovered Edmond’s lifeless body when she brought in water for their baths. Rudolph resented the sadness displayed by the nurse and the hospital attendants as they took the body away.

Rudolph forced himself to be patient and when it seemed appropriate, he asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to turn and looked out the window.

It faced a blank wall.

Later, Rudolph asked the nurse what could have compelled Edmond to lie about the wonderful things he saw outside this window?

The nurse replied, “You mean you didn’t know? He couldn’t have described anything outside the window, not even the wall. He was blind. Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Sally forth and quit being envious of what other have and start being appreciative what you’ve gottingly writeful.

— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys